State lottery contracts for four distributors in Mizoram have been suspended following an allegation by the opposition party that the process for issuing the licenses was unfair. The move was just the latest in the never-ending saga of lotteries in India.
Last week, Mizoram’s finance department issued a statement, saying that the contracts would not be extended to Ecool Gaming Solution, Teesta Distributors, N.V. International and Summit Online Trade Solution. The decision was taken after members of the Mizo National Front (MNF) accused Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of renewing the four contracts despite knowing that the amount of revenue returned by the distributors over the past six years was not consistent with state averages.
The MNF appealed to the Directorate of Institutional Finance and State Lottery in Aizawal, alleging state losses of around $17.3 million in revenue resulting from the scheme. The group also sought a probe by the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the scam, as well as into the possible involvement by Thanhawla.
The group argued that Thanhawla was involved in the scam as evidenced by his approval of the four contracts to the distributors, not to mention his unwillingness to call for an investigation by the CBI.
The minister asserted that he has not played a role in any tender scam. Thanhawla said this past Saturday that he has never “squandered even a single paisa from the state lottery.” In addition, he refuted the claims that he hasn’t called for a CBI investigation, saying that he has invited the agency to explore operations and has also ordered Mizoram’s chief secretary to launch a separate investigation into the alleged scam.
Thanhawla explained, “I received a call from the CBI offices in Delhi and Imphal. They told me that they did not find it necessary to probe the Mizo Carbon allegations. I have not received any response with regards to state lottery.”
Lotteries have been a sore spot in the country for some time. Last year, Mizoram was targeted by the Comptroller and Auditor General for not properly managing its lottery system and for not collecting all of the proceeds due to the state. Mizoram and neighboring Kerala have battled over lotteries, as well, with Kerala banning Mizoram from selling lottery tickets within its territory last year. That ban was ultimately overturned by the Kerala High Court.